In our June 19th blog post, TravelDividends provided an overview of the adventure travel industry, including estimates of market size, industry dynamics and trends and some of the evolving characteristics of the adventure travel consumer.  In today’s follow-up to that article, we profile how travel affiliates can profit from two standard – yet vastly different – types of affiliate programs offered by companies focused on the adventure travel segment.

As noted in our earlier post, the adventure travel industry is a huge niche which itself encompasses a broad range of ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ adventure travel experiences.  Within these two experiential travel categories can be found numerous tour products focused on specialty sub-niches like Ecotourism, Wildlife tourism, Archaeology, Cultural Immersion, Scientific and Heritage travel to name just a few.

Some of the adventure travel tour operators offer travel affiliate programs based on a CPA model, similar to those offered by generalist tour operators.  Typically, these CPA programs pay a fixed commission on transactions completed on the tour operator’s web site, and in some cases, over the telephone as well.

For example, one of the most esteemed and largest adventure travel tour operators, G.A.P. Adventures, offers travel affiliates up to 5% commission for each completed online booking the travel affiliate’s customers transact on G.A.P. website.  As G.A.P. Adventures’ core trips range in value from a low of $500 to $10,000 (with some priced as high as $27,000 per person), this tour operator’s affiliate program represents a phenomenal opportunity for travel affiliates to earn substantial commissions.

Based in Toronto, Canada with offices in the U.S., UK, and Australia, G.A.P. Adventures offers more than 1,000 adventure tours to all 7 continents, and moves more than 85,000 travelers annually to such exotic itineraries like Inca Discoveries (Cuzco, Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu in Peru); Kilimanjaro Trek (Kenya’s Mt Kilimanjaro from Marangu Route); Everest Adventure (Kathmandu, Everest Base Camp in Nepal); and the Galapagos Islands Yacht Adventure (retrace Charles Darwin’s footsteps).

G.A.P. Adventures has won numerous industry awards in recognition of the breadth and quality of its product offerings, as well as for it commitment to environmental principles and support for many humanitarian causes worldwide.  Canadian and U.S. travel affiliates can enroll in G.A.P. Adventures’ affiliate program through Commission Junction, while UK and European based affiliates can sign-up for G.A.P.’s affiliate program through Affiliate Window.

Another way travel affiliates can tap into the broader affiliate marketing opportunity within the adventure travel space is to work with adventure travel infomediaries, content aggregators or advice engines like Away.com.

As one of the largest adventure travel planning websites for consumers, Away.com has more than two million pages of content covering some 35,000 destinations worldwide in its database. In addition to its editorial offerings, Away.com provides consumers with access to listings for vacation rentals, adventure tour operators, and other travel resources and suppliers.  The site provides comprehensive trip planning tools, including the ability for consumers to research their adventure vacation by using a search navigation feature that is structured around the traveler’s lifestyle/interest, preferred destination – or a combination of both criteria.

As no tour booking occurs on the Away.com site, they do not offer a tour package commission affiliate program like G.A.P. Adventures.  Instead, the Company offers travel affiliates a CPA commission program based on its extensive adventure travel content.  Specifically, travel affiliates can earn a commission from Away.com in several ways: compensation for each user that comes from their site to Away.com’s and registers for one of the aggregator’s free contests or products; for hosting one of Away.com’s contests on the travel affiliate’s site; or for the travel affiliate’s agreeing to link to some of Away.com’s free products like screensavers and postcards.

To quote Away.com, their travel affiliate value proposition is quite simple: “As an affiliate we will pay you to offer content that should actually increase your site’s traffic.”  Also mentioned on their affiliate FAQs page is that some of their top performing travel affiliates “… are earning over $4,000 per quarter.”  A tidy sum, indeed, by any measure.

Away.com manages their travel affiliate program in-house; they track referrals and registrations, run reports for affiliates on a monthly basis to identify referrals which have resulted in registrations and pay-out earned commissions on a quarterly basis.  The system also automatically serves the content or banners to the travel affiliate’s site.  For more information on Away’s travel affiliate program, click here.

Away.com is part of the Away Network, which also includes GORP.com, a leading website focused on hiking, camping, and national parks vacations; GORPtravel.com, a travel directory of active vacations and adventure tour outfitters; and operates Outside Online, the website of Outside, a leading U.S. active lifestyle magazine.  However, we were unable to find travel affiliate programs for these subsidiaries.

Away.com’s database is also integrated into online travel agencies (OTAs) CheapTickets and Orbitz, of which the latter is the parent company of the Away Network companies, CheapTickets, European OTA eBookers, as well as hotel aggregators hotelclub.com, ratestogo.com and asia-hotels.com, all of which offer travel affiliate programs.  We should mention that on Orbitz’ and CheapTickets website, travel affiliates can also earn commission for booking adventure tour packages from the range of tour operators, including many of tour operators that don’t directly distribute through the affiliate marketing channel.

As you can see, there are several ways for travel affiliates to tap into the adventure travel super-niche.  TravelDividends hopes that you found today’s article informative and useful, and we very much look forward to hearing from our readers as to their experiences with adventure travel.  Send us an email, and share your thoughts… Thanks!

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